If Sanders Demands Concessions, They Should Be for Cabinet Appointments

Sanders’ overwhelming wins this Saturday in Washington, Hawaii and Alaska will be a shot in the arm to his campaign. But it doesn’t change the fact that Clinton has a nearly insurmountable lead in even pledged delegates, to say nothing of superdelegates.

Still, the resilience of the Sanders campaign and the fervent loyalty of his base means that he will have every argument to take his candidacy all the way until the convention to extract as many concessions as possible from the Clinton camp.

It’s not clear that the Clinton team will necessary need to listen to Sanders at all assuming she clears the delegate hurdle. But they might be wise to consider it. As my colleague Martin Longman says:

If I were John Podesta, I’d be making up a very big gift bag for Bernie. This would include consultations on the veep, and concessions on many key appointments. Sanders will want a say in the staffing at Treasury, for example. He may have other demands, too. He’ll need to get some very visible wins that he can show his voters so they can feel like what they’ve done has made a difference and can continue to make a difference.

Many Sanders voters will be looking for Clinton to make policy concessions in terms of adopting key planks of Sanders’ platform. But that would be a mistake. Neither Clinton’s nor Sanders’ campaign platforms have any prayers of passage in a GOP Congress, and only a slightly better than zero chance in a razor-thin Democratic House majority enabled by conservative blue dogs.

Realistically, the greatest difference between a Sanders and Clinton presidency would be in cabinet appointments. Sanders would doubtless appoint more Keynesian, less finance-sector-friendly officials at Treasury, and at Justice he would appoint those more willing to aggressively prosecute white collar, financial and environmental crimes. If Sanders could extract concessions from Clinton on those fronts, then he would in theory accomplish de facto most of what he could practically do differently as president.

And those concessions alone would be ample justification and rationale for his insurgent campaign, while doing little to no damage to Clinton’s prospects against the Republican nominee in the fall.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.